Characters: Parks and Recreation

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Main Characters

    Leslie Knope 

Leslie Barbara Knope (Amy Poehler)

“It is my dream to build a park that I one day visit with my White House staff on my birthday. And they say, ‘President Knope, this park is awesome. Now we understand why you’re the first female president of the United States.’”

Leslie is the deputy director of the Parks and Recreation Department in Pawnee, Indiana. An Inverted Trope of the Obstructive Bureaucrat, Leslie is a cheerful bureaucrat full of can-do spirit. This makes her The Pollyanna on a show where almost everyone else is cynical and jaded to one degree or another. She is also a Determinator.

  • Adorkable
  • Afraid of Needles: To the point of making a Precision F-Strike against Ann.
  • All-Loving Hero: Edging closer to this trope as her Determinator qualities make her more and more effective.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Averted! Leslie is extremely ambitious (just read the above quotation), but she is also very moral. In some episodes, she is presented with an immoral way to achieve one of her goals and considers using it, but ultimately she ends up feeling guilty and doesn’t go through with it.
  • Badass: She has her moments, never forget that she’s a capable hunter.
  • Bad Liar: Honest to a fault, Leslie’s rare attempts at subterfuge invariably fall flat. In many cases, she ends up ratting herself out.
  • Beleaguered Bureaucrat:
    • This becomes especially apparent in “Christmas Scandal,” where it’s shown that her duties are so numerous that the combined efforts of all six of her coworkers can’t get the job done.
    • Her overextension is given attention again in “Sweet Sixteen,” where Ron states that she’s been pulling 100 hours a week trying to give equal attention to her job and her city council campaign. Throughout the episode she keeps making minor blunders due to neglecting something from either side of her professional life. At the end of the episode she decides to reduce her time at her day job to ten hours per week.
  • Big Eater: When it comes to waffles, whipped cream, sugar, or all of the above, Leslie’s essentially a bottomless pit.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: She’s very good at her job, and probably should have Ron’s. On the other hand, she is also an extremely eccentric Woman Child.
  • Catch Phrase:
    Leslie: It’s every girl’s dream to [something incredibly wonky, obscure and/or over-specific].
    Leslie: Ann, you [insert strangely condescending comment that compliments her beauty but points out her naïveté].
  • Character Development: Leslie had some Michael Scott-ish aspects to her personality in Season 1, but in Season 2 the character became much less obnoxious, and more of a hyper-competent, upbeat Pollyanna.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander
  • Determinator: Best exemplified by her masterful oration of her speech intended to attract sponsors to Harvest Festival. All while she was near delirious with the flu, and quickly reverted to sickness-induced delirium during a short Q&A session.
    • This is Leslie’s great weakness as well as her strength. In many episodes the conflict can be summarized as ‘Leslie’s friends have to convince her that she can’t change a situation she considers unacceptable.’ Of course, she is so hypercompetent that she frequently finds ways to improve the situation anyway.
      • Summarized nicely in “The Smallest Park” when Ann interrupts Leslie’s complaints about how unfair it is to call her a steamroller:
        Ann: You’re a steamroller! You’re a massive, enormous, runaway steamroller with no brakes and a cement brick on the gas pedal!
  • Distaff Counterpart: Back in the first season, critics tended to dismiss Leslie as ‘Michael Scott in a skirt,’ but it’s generally agreed that she became more her own character after the series Grew the Beard, as unlike Michael Scott, she is not only good at her job, but totally deserved to have been promoted into it.
  • Does Not Like Salad: Or other disgusting things.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Starts out the show as an incompetent Michael Scott expy. In the second season she becomes a hyper-competent determinator Pollyanna.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Wears a small, very tight French braid in her hair curving around the top of her head in “Jerry’s Painting,” apparently because she takes very well to being compared to a Greek goddess.
  • Fangirl: When it comes to Harry Potter. She made best friend Ann watch all eight movies even though she doesn’t like Harry Potter.
    • She’s also a huge fangirl for Joe Biden and most prominent American women in politics, to the point of covering the walls of her office with their pictures. She’s also a type of geek rarely portrayed in the media, the government policy wonk.
  • Five Temperament Ensemble: Choleric
  • Glurge Addict: Mildly. She really likes cute things, but not to an annoying degree.
    Leslie: Scientifically hummingbirds are the world’s cutest animals. I mean, they’re so small, they have tiny beaks and they only eat sugar water. I mean what beats that? Come on. Baby monkeys in diapers? Yeah … they do. Baby monkeys in diapers are the cutest.
  • Go-Getter Girl: Has the ambitious, driven personality down pat.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Despite her very ambitious nature, Leslie is extremely nice and many of her goals are motivated by caring for her friends and the citizens of Pawnee.
  • Happily Married: To Ben as of mid-Season 5.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Ann.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: A rare example of the lead character fitting this trope. This suits her boss just fine.
  • The Idealist
  • Immigrant Patriotism: During her campaign, Leslie is stunned to learn that she was actually born in Eagleton, not Pawnee, partly because she hates Eagleton and partly because most of the voters hate Eagleton. As she thinks about it further, though, she realizes that it’s the choice to continue living in and trying to improve Pawnee that really matters, and manages to communicate that to the voters. (Also, you know, the reason she was born in Eagleton was that although her parents lived in Pawnee, Pawnee’s hospital was overrun with raccoons at the time, and Eagleton’s hospital was the only one nearby that was in a reasonably good state.)
  • The Knights Who Say Squee: To Michelle Obama, among others.
  • Nice Girl: Despite her faults, Leslie is overall a very kind-hearted person who constantly does nice things for her friends and goes out of her way to help others. Ron puts it best when he says, “Leslie has a lot of qualities I find horrifying, but the worst one by far is how thoughtful she can be.”
  • Number Two: Officially, she is this to Ron, but she actually does all the work.
  • Oblivious to Love: Initially, regarding Ben’s interest in her.
  • Official Couple: With Ben.
  • Platonic Life Partners: With Ron.
  • Plucky Girl: The absolute poster girl for the trope.
  • The Pollyanna
  • Real Women Never Wear Dresses: Leslie is a competent golfer and hunter, and she almost always dresses in a masculine manner, but considering that appearing to be ‘too feminine’ is a concern for women in the real world for business and politics, this is very much a Justified Trope.
  • Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: Energetic girl to Ben’s savvy guy.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Kind of. She’s not full of herself, but she’s convinced that her municipal government job is much more important than it really is. She also has no doubt that she will one day be president of the United States.
    • Increasingly looks like this will be averted completely, as her work is getting her more attention — at least from local Pawnee politicians.
  • Sweet Tooth: She puts sugar on pasta.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: She piles whipped cream onto everything. She also loves Belgian waffles, specifically the ones from JJ’s Diner.
  • Weirdness Magnet: Somewhat. She’s seldom had a ‘normal’ date — something extremely outlandish happens, or the date himself is outlandish. Incidents include a blazing dress, an Ambien overdose, a date sticking his hand in her mouth as she slept, and a free MRI.note  As far as we’ve seen, Dave and Ben are the only men she’s dated without some kind of off-putting quirk or glaring character flaw.
    • A slightly off-putting quirk of Dave’s came out when he briefly returns to Pawnee and confesses his love to Leslie, and then handcuffs Ben to a urinal.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Happens whenever she tries to do an accent or an imitation. Here are some examples.
  • White Guilt: Shows occasional signs of this, especially when dealing with Ken Hotate, the local Native American leader, who likes to invoke Everything Is Racist cheerfully to provoke this reaction and get his way. She largely outgrows it in later interactions with him.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Much to Ron's endless annoyance, and failed attempts to beat it out of her.
  • Woman Child: Leslie is cheerful, hyperactive, and a little naïve. Not to mention her fondness for candy and dislike of vegetables. She is competent, however — indeed, very competent.
    Ann (in a deleted scene): Leslie is incredible. She has the energy of a ten year-old. And the same taste in snacks.
  • Workaholic: At one point Ron has to lock her in a room so she can actually sleep because she's working herself so hard. The next morning she excitedly says that she slept seven hours, which is about twice as long as she normally does. Hell, in “Citizen Knope” she attempts to steal some work from the office to do at home during her paid suspension.

    Ann Perkins 

Ann Meredith Perkins (Rashida Jones)

“The Parks Department has done so much for me that if I can help them out in any way, I will. Oh, God. Maybe I should just give them all free flu shots.”

Leslie’s Heterosexual Life Partner. They first meet in the pilot episode, when Ann attended a town hall meeting to bring an abandoned construction pit to the government’s attention. For the first three seasons, Ann was a nurse at the local hospital, making it somewhat baffling that she seemed to spend so much time with the other characters at City Hall. Eventually, she was given a part-time job at City Hall to solve this problem. She is generally a Straight Woman.

  • Ambiguously Brown: Obviously applies to any character played by Rashida Jones, who is black and Jewish.
    Leslie: I’ve said this to you before and I know it makes you uncomfortable, but you’re thoughtful and you’re brilliant. And your ambiguous ethnic blend perfectly represents the dream of the American melting pot.
  • Big Eater: She apparently once consumed an entire cheesecake at Leslie’s request, commenting only that it was delicious and that she would have eaten ten if asked.
  • Cannot Tell a Joke: She notably fails when she attempts to be funny, often saying an awkward joke and then immediately regretting it and kicking herself under her breath.
  • Deadpan Snarker
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Colors a few locks of her hair bright red in an attempt to impress Chris in “Camping.”
  • Extreme Doormat: Definitely has elements of this. She’s very passive compared to Leslie and is always pulled into Leslie’s plans. Also, due to the Florence Nightingale Effect and Weakness Turns Her On, she’s very inclined to allow boyfriends to take advantage of her.
  • Five Temperament Ensemble: Phlegmatic
  • Florence Nightingale Effect: Ann is clearly shown to be attracted to vulnerable and sickly men. She waited on Andy hand and foot when his legs broke, and tries to coddle and protect him like a child, and kisses him when he ends up in the hospital again. She was also incredibly threatened and uncomfortable by Chris being almost completely perfect, until he got a nasty case of the flu, which made her ecstatic.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Leslie.
  • Hospital Hottie: Not that she actually spends much time working there.
  • Mistaken for Gay: As a Running Gag, she and Leslie are repeatedly mistaken for a lesbian couple.
  • Official Couple: With Chris as of Season 5.
  • One-Hour Work Week: Ann’s nursing job. The show is a Work Com, it’s just not dedicated to her work. Occasionally we see her at her work, usually whenever a main character ends up in the hospital. Ann getting a part-time job at the city’s health department as of the end of Season 3 is most likely an attempt to avert this trope.
    • Of course since this is a Mockumentary, we can assume it is all done off-screen and has been edited out.
  • Put on a Bus
  • Really Gets Around: She finally learns how to put her looks to good use in season three, and is shown with at least one new paramour every episode of that season.
  • Shipper on Deck: Ann really, really wants Leslie and Ben to get together (and even sneaks an Al Green song onto their road trip mix, which is designed to be as un-sexy as possible).
  • So Beautiful, It's a Curse: A mild case. Being so beautiful, she’s never been dumped before. When Chris breaks up with her, his positive personality and strange wording plus her inexperience make her not realize it until a week later and she is blindsided by it. As Leslie put it in an earlier episode:
    Leslie: Ann, I always forget you’re so pretty you’re not used to rejection!
  • Straight Woman
  • Weakness Turns Her On: As indicated by her finding Chris more attractive when she was caring for him than when he was a perfect human specimen. This also explains her relationship with Andy and why it didn’t work out with Mark.
  • What Does She See in Him?: Ann goes through as many lame, unattractive boyfriends as attractive ones in season three. Leslie has to call her out on it in “The Fight” when her current guy happens to be the Douche.
    • This was the crux of her relationship with Andy in Season 1, who at that point was such a Jerkass that he intentionally delayed getting his cast removed for two weeks just to have her keep waiting on him.

    Tom Haverford 

Thomas Montgomery Haverford (Aziz Ansari)

“I had to call in a few favors, but if you don’t call in favors to look at women in bikinis and assign them numerical grades, what the hell do you call in favors for?”

Tom is Leslie’s immediate subordinate, in charge of scheduling parks activities and an aspiring media mogul. Networking, hot women, expensive suits, hot women, slacking off, and hot women are just a few of his favorite things. As of the end of Season 6, he runs an Italian restaurant, Tom’s Bistro.

  • Always Second Best: He has a sort of inferiority complex for Ron, which came to a boiling point in “Go Big or Go Home.”
  • Butt Monkey: Defaults into this after Jerry’s retirement, before revealing to Ron that he was the Jerry at his old job before moving to Pawnee and reinventing himself.
  • Camp Straight: Despite his Handsome Lech personality, he invests in a gay bar, wears pink shirts, and drinks stereotypically ‘gay’ drinks. Leslie lampshades this in “Pawnee Zoo”:
    Leslie: Okay, so I know you’re not gay.
    Tom: No, I’m not.
    Leslie: But you’re very effeminate.
    Tom: What?
    Leslie: Well, you’re wearing a shirt with a coiled snake on it.
  • Can't Hold His Liquor
    Detlef Schrempf: He had two beers. Light beers.
    • Oddly, in what may be an Out-of-Character Moment, he isn’t shown to be terribly intoxicated by his invention Snakejuice, which has terrible aftereffects for the rest of the cast (especially Ron). Though he still ends up drunk.
  • Casanova Wannabe: Sometimes to the point of real pathos.
  • Character Development: Over the seasons, he becomes more mature, confident, and self-reliant.
  • Characterization Marches On: Season 1 Tom is far more straitlaced, with only a few of the quirks he’d have later on, with most of the humor around him being focused on his South Asian heritage and being Leslie’s Number Two. Season 2 added in the love of style, ramped up the perverted aspects and gave him far more screen time with other characters.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Is actually the one to tell Ben they should make sure a drunken Joan Callamezzo gets safely home from lunch with them.
  • Citizenship Marriage: His wife Wendy. Despite him being brown-skinned and her being white, she was the one who needed the green card. She’s Canadian.
  • The Dandy: He has a full-sized room for a closet and explicitly states that he wears pink for the sake of “peacocking”.
  • Deadpan Snarker: With a much greater emphasis on ‘snarker’; there is little ‘deadpan’ about Tom.
  • Five Temperament Ensemble: Sanguine
  • Hypocritical Humor: Despite his obsession with being trendy and stylish, he is repeatedly shown to be woefully out of touch with what is actually trendy and stylish.
  • It's All About Me: Has a big, big problem with this. It’s on full display in “Meet ’N’ Greet,” where he turns an event for Leslie to get to know local business owners into an investment pitch for his company Entertainment 720. While he did it because E720 was bankrupt and he was desperate for funds, it also wasn’t particularly out of character.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: As Leslie puts it, “Tom Haverford is a selfish, sleazy, self-promoting, good-hearted, secretly kind and wonderful tiny, little person.”
  • Man Child: Seems to have the mentality of a fifteen-year-old boy.
  • Mock Millionaire: Comes up often but particularly emphasized during the Entertainment 720 arc, when he and Jean-Ralphio carelessly spent money on buying excessive props and hiring attractive women as surplus employees while not doing any actual work or generating revenue for their company.
  • The Nicknamer
  • Odd Friendship: Andy and Ben are both about as far from him personality-wise as possible, each for very different reasons, but he hangs out with both of them a lot. A later episode even shows that he considers them more of his true friends than the almost identical Jean-Ralphio.
  • Pet the Dog: After Leslie tears up the Venezuelans’ check in “Sister City,” Tom secretly takes all the tips he earned making himself the Venezuelans’ errand boy and donates it all toward the park fund.
  • Pretty Fly for an Indian Guy: At one point, Tom mentions having carefully cultivating a Jay-Z vibe and once dressed up as the rapper T-Pain for Halloween. He’s also fond of using the slang term “boo” to refer to a significant other.
  • Popularity Polynomial: In-Universe: Finds himself the victim of this compared to Ben in the episode “Prom.” His taste in music is out of touch with high school students.
  • Schemer: He’s always involved in some plan or invention to get fabulously wealthy, but none of them works.
  • Self-Deprecation: Will not deny that he rides others’ coattails.
    Tom: Behind every successful man is me: smiling and taking partial credit.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Full force.
  • This Is My Name on Foreign: His birth name is Darwish Sabir Ismael Gani, but he changed it since he thought people with “funny-sounding Muslim names” didn’t have a chance in politics. He admits this reason is Hilarious in Hindsight after Barack Obama.
  • Took a Level in Badass/Took a Level in Kindness: After his failure with Entertainment 720, he successfully manages to run a small suit-rental business before being bought out by a competitor. He now works in City Government to help bring outside businesses to Pawnee, impressing Ron and Leslie. He’s also noticeably less selfish.

    Ron Swanson 

Ronald Ulysses Swanson (Nick Offerman)

“My idea of a perfect government is one guy who sits in a small room at a desk, and the only thing he’s allowed to decide is who to nuke. The man is chosen based on some kind of IQ test, and maybe also a physical tournament, like a decathlon. And women are brought to him, maybe … when he desires them.”

Leslie’s manly, mustachioed, unapologetically libertarian boss who, engaged in a continuous attempt to sabotage the Pawnee government, secretly (or not-so-secretly) tries to stop anything from getting done. Leslie basically does his job for him, allowing him to devote his time to being a Memetic Badass.

  • Acquired Poison Immunity: His family have their own brand of moonshine that can only be legally used to strip varnish off speedboats. This is the only plausible reason why he can knock back so much alcohol yet never get hung over. (Tom’s Snakejuice got him drunk, but he suffered no ill effects the morning after.)
  • Adorkable: Surprisingly enough, he can slip pretty hard into this when he's enthusiastic about something.
  • Annoying Laugh: Despite his unabashed masculinity, he titters like a schoolgirl on the few occasions where he does laugh.
  • Badass: One of the central aspects of his character is how incredibly badass he is. To put into perspective just how insane he is, every onscreen fight he’s been involved in has ended in a single punch.
  • Beta Couple: With Diane as of Season 5.
  • Big Eater: Especially in regards to red meat and breakfast meals; all other foodstuffs are treated with suspicion, or outright derision. The only thing that interests him in a strip club is the breakfast buffet. He says that if he does not have at least three breakfast meals a day, he acts like a tired whiny child. He has an enormous picture of bacon and eggs framed in his office.
    Ron: Just give me all the bacon and eggs you have … Wait, wait. I worry what you just heard was, “Give me a lot of bacon and eggs.” What I said was, “Give me all the bacon and eggs you have.” Do you understand?
    • He can eat a party platter meant to feed 12 people in four minutes.
    • He also holds a number of records around Pawnee for eating large amounts of food very quickly.
      Ron: Why is everyone else so bad at eating?
  • Birthday Hater: He hates birthdays so much that he has gone to great lengths to keep anyone from finding out his own, including having it redacted from all government documents. Needless to say, he is not pleased when Leslie discovers his.
    “I don’t like loud noises. And people making a fuss. And I especially don’t like people celebrating because they know a piece of private information about me. Plus the whole thing is a scam — birthdays were invented by Hallmark to sell cards.”
  • Breakout Character: So much. He’s by far the most popular character among fans, and some TV critics have called him the best sitcom character since Cosmo Kramer.
  • The Cast Showoff: Nick Offerman actually is a woodworker. He also plays saxophone.
  • Catch Phrase: “Bully.”
  • Characterization Marches On: Early Ron Swanson doesn’t share Season 2-onwards Ron’s Rated M for Manly aspects or begrudging respect for Leslie.
    • By Season 6, Ron is prepared to describe the National Parks Service as “the only branch of the government that doesn’t completely suck.”
  • Crazy-Prepared: Keeps a survival backpack hidden in a ventilation grate down the hall.
    • Taken Up to Eleven when Ron retrieves the bag after his first ex-wife shows up. It’s labeled, indicating that Ron prepared it specifically to escape from Tammy One.
  • Deadpan Snarker: He is often sarcastic toward his coworkers and people in general, it is actually one of the many things he has in common with April.
  • Disc One Final Boss: He was initially the Big Bad of Season 7, until him and Leslie reconciled in "Leslie & Ron". Now Gryzzl itself is the Big Bad.
  • Drink Order: Scotch. Specifically Lagavulin 16-year, neat.
  • Everyone Loves Blondes: Inverted. While he doesn’t hate them, after his relationship with Tammy One, he only dates dark-haired women because she ruined blondes for him.
  • Five Temperament Ensemble: Melancholic
  • Happily Married: To Diane as of the beginning of Season 6.
  • Hates Being Touched
  • Henpecked Husband: Around Tammy One.
  • Hidden Depths: Ron moonlights as jazz saxophonist “Duke Silver” and plays in clubs outside Pawnee.
  • Hypocritical Humor: “When I buried gold in my backyard, I promised myself I would not be miserly with it.”
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He may act like he hates all his coworkers, but he’s shown on more than one occasion that if any of them is seriously hurting or in trouble, he’ll be there for them.
  • Kavorka Man: Best demonstrated when Chris spends a whole night courting Andy’s women’s studies professor yet she ends up taking Ron back home, when all he did was eat steak.
  • Like Parent, Like Spouse: Has two ex-wives and a mother named Tammy.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: Hanging around Tammy One turns him into a complete wuss. Tammy Two turns him into a raging sex fiend.
  • Made of Iron: In “Hunting Trip,” he takes a shotgun blast to the back of the head, and spends the rest of the episode more angry than debilitated.
  • Manly Tears: He’s only ever cried twice. The first time was when a bus ran into him as a child. The second was when he first learned of Li’l Sebastian’s death. He very nearly cries a third time in “Citizen Knope” in reaction to Leslie’s Christmas gift — remote-controlled closing doors for his office.
  • Mentor Archetype: He essentially mentors the entire cast to varying degrees.
  • Morality Pet: Andy has slowly been softening him up.
  • Non-Idle Rich: Ron owns so much gold that the five percent he plans to leave to each of his kids is considered a lot of money. He’s an odd example: he does nothing at work, but builds as much of his possessions as he can.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: He acts as one on purpose in a (thanks to Leslie’s hyper-competence) questionably effective attempt to make the government as useless as possible.
  • One-Man Army: Nothing can keep him down.
  • Only Sane Man: He doesn’t get involved in his coworkers’ hijinks.
  • Papa Wolf: While initially unconcerned with Gryzzl's datamining, the moment his son's privacy becomes an issue he goes on the offensive.
  • Patriotic Fervor: Of course. Here’s what he thinks of Canada. Ron especially hates anything resembling Commie Land.
    • He does, however, actually come to like the Scottish Highlands after Leslie sends him there to visit the Lagavulin distillery.
  • Perpetual Frowner: Even when he’s being nice, he’s stern. The only thing that makes him smile is the collapse of the Pawnee government.
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: "Is Star Wars the one with the little wizard boy?"
  • Professional Slacker: He basically lets Leslie run the department, which she is only too happy to do. Ron, as a fierce super-libertarian, is actually ideologically opposed to the government accomplishing things; the one time he is seen actually working with enthusiasm is when the city needs ideas on how to slash its budget.
  • Rated M for Manly
  • Real Men Eat Meat: To the point that he thinks fish are acceptable to catch, but not to eat since “fish meat is practically a vegetable”.
    • Ron is also the inventor of the “Turf and Turf.” This is a 16-ounce T-bone steak lightly garnished with a 24-ounce Porterhouse.
    • In one episode, he is seen eating a turkey leg wrapped in bacon and guess what's it called?note 
  • Secretly Wealthy: Apparently owns a massive amount of gold and cash. So much so that, according to his attorney, the five per cent he plans to leave his step-children is considered a huge inheritance.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: The manly man to Chris’ sensitive guy.
  • Sliding Scale of Libertarianism and Authoritarianism: As indicated by the above quote, Ron’s political philosophy falls quite far on the libertarian side. He has explicitly referred to himself as a libertarian a number of times and sees no value in government-run institutions to the point of wanting everything privatized. Unfortunately for him, Leslie always has ambitious plans to expand the Parks Department. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Team Dad: Begrudgingly.
  • 'Tis Only a Bullet in the Brain: In “Hunting Trip.”
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Red meat (especially steaks and burgers), breakfast food, and Scotch whisky.
  • Tsundere: Clearly towards Diane in Season 5.
  • You Kill It, You Bought It: He intends to leave the bulk of his money to the person or animal that kills him.

    April Ludgate-Dwyer 

April Roberta Ludgate-Dwyer (Aubrey Plaza)

“No, I didn’t win, but at least I didn’t make any new friendships.”

April is The Snark Knight. Originally, she was an apathetic college intern who constantly slacked off and seemed like she would rather be anywhere else. In the second season, she was hired as Ron’s assistant specifically to stonewall anyone wishing to meet with him. Near the end of the fourth season, it’s revealed that, while she generally hates people, April loves animals and realizes that this might be her calling. In Season 5, the incompetent Animal Control Department is absorbed by the Parks Department and April is appointed director of the new sub-department.

  • Ambiguously Bi: She expresses interest in going to a strip club, and thinks Jerry’s painting of topless Leslie is hot.
  • Ascended Extra: In season 1 April’s relevant to the plot all of twice and even then tangentially, even though Aubrey Plaza got regular-cast credit from the beginning. Mid-Season 2 onwards she becomes one of the most focused-on characters in the main cast.
  • Aside Glance: Due to the format, all the characters do it from time to time, but the aside glance appears to be April’s primary form of communication.
  • Beta Couple: With Andy after they become a couple. She is the youngest, most cynical, and apathetic of the main female characters and is ironically the first of them to get married.
  • Be Yourself: In Season 5 she gets put into the public spotlight more and more as a representative for the parks department. At first she imitates Leslie as a way to get through her presentations, since Leslie has always been good at that sort of thing and it helps her deal with her nerves, but April realizes that Leslie’s methods don’t work for her and simply starts acting like herself. While this gets complaints for excessive rudeness, she is much more successful than she ever was imitating Leslie.
  • Character Development: Her character arc starts in earnest in Season 4 and continues into Season 5 as she realizes that she can’t be a complete jerk to everyone and attempts earnestly to forge a career. Besides that, April becomes more outgoing and eccentric as the show goes on, most prominently after marrying Andy.
  • Large Ham: Whenever she acts in-show, like when she pretended to be a rich, vampish widow at a bar.
  • Woman Child: Among other examples, she buys toys instead of household items at Bed, Bath and Beyond.
  • The Matchmaker: Much to her own dismay, she finds herself helping couples get together. April is the one who pairs up Tom and Ann, much to her regret as they annoy her later with their relationship problems. She also tries to set up Chris, still sad from breaking up with Jerry’s daughter Millicent, with Andy’s women’s studies professor. She ends up sleeping with Ron instead.
  • Morality Pet: Andy in a way has helped in her gradual defrosting. Notably her time with him leads her to reject her two gay boyfriends due to being annoyed by how artificial their hipster ways were.
  • Odd Friendship: She is quite close with Leslie despite them having completely opposite personalities. Her initial friendship with Andy in Season 2 could also count, however after they get married they become more The Odd Couple.
  • Opposites Attract: With peppy, dorky jock and rock singer Andy.
  • Pet the Dog: Guilty over successfully wishing misfortune upon Chris in “Bowling for Votes,” she offers to take him to the movies with her and Andy with the tickets she won in the donation phone pool.
    • Literally in season three. Andy and April adopt a three-legged dog named Champion. She adores him, states he’s one of the few things she cares about, and eventually admits that helping homeless animals get adopted is one of the few things that could get her passionate about a boring, administrative job.
    • In Season 6, when she believes Larry to be very ill, she tries hard to be nice to him, to the point of actually reaching into his shirt and scratching his back for him.
  • Professional Slacker: About as literal as possible. It’s the whole reason Ron hires her.
    Ron: I don’t care that you text all day and sleep at your desk. In fact, I encourage it.
  • Put on a Bus: The possibility is toyed with in Season 3, when Chris offers to take her back to Indianapolis with him to be his assistant.
  • Sarcastic Confession: In her words: “The truth is stupid. I only tell the truth when it makes me sound like I’m lying.”
  • Sassy Secretary: And Ron likes it that way.
  • Secret Secret Keeper: Reveals to Ron that she’s aware of his double life as Duke Silver, as her mother has all of his albums and she recognized him the second they met.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: April, being played by Aubrey Plaza, always looks pretty, but usually gives the impression that she doesn’t care about her personal appearance. The handful of times she dresses up, like in “2017,” she looks unbelievable.
  • Shouldn't We Be in School Right Now?: Similar to Ann’s One-Hour Work Week. April is a college student, but this isn’t mentioned very often and she never seems to have to be in class, which implies that whatever college she’s attending is close enough for her to be at the office so often during the day.
  • Spicy Latina: She acknowledges the trope while averting it with extreme prejudice.
    April: My mom’s Puerto Rican. That’s why I’m so lively and colorful.

    Mark Brendanawicz 

Mark Brendanawicz (Paul Schneider)

“I hit rock bottom that night. I mean I literally fell to the bottom of a pit and hit a rock. I remember laying there [sic] thinking, ‘There’s probably a good reason why I’m down here.’ And then I remember thinking, ‘I need morphine.’”

A city planner. Straight Man caught in a Love Triangle between Leslie and Ann. He started off the series as a Handsome Lech, but this was quickly dropped and he spent most of his time on the show being a Ladykiller in Love. Put on a Bus when he joins a private company at the end of season two.

  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Non-villainous example. Some years prior to the first season, Mark and Leslie slept together once. This was a very important event in Leslie’s life and she imagines their working relationship has been filled with Unresolved Sexual Tension since. Mark sleeps with so many women that he barely even remembers it.
  • The Casanova/Handsome Lech: In the first season.
  • Five Temperament Ensemble: Leukine
  • Character Development: In the second season, he began a steady relationship with Ann and remained faithful to her. At Valentine's Day, he (admittedly) gives her every clichéd Valentine’s Day gift he can think of because it’s the first time he’s been able to give someone such a gift.
  • The Generic Guy: For two seasons, he stood in the middle of a cast of more interesting characters and acted sane. Obviously, a Straight Man is supposed to do that, but unlike other characters who have fulfilled this role on the show (such as Ben), Mark lacked any quirks that allowed the character to take part in the shenanigans.
  • Ladykiller in Love: How his Character Development happened.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Hit on Ann before she actually broke up with Andy, and then fell into the Pit behind Ann’s house later that night, just as Andy had done to inaugurate the series.
  • Perma Stubble
  • Put on a Bus: At the end of season two, Ann breaks up with him and he leaves the government to work for a construction company after Pawnee is declared bankrupt.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: As of the end of Season 6, Mark has never been mentioned following his change in employment, even when it would make sense for him to be mentioned. For example, Leslie and Ben struggle to find an architect for the Lot 48 park in “Pawnee Commons,” apparently forgetting that Mark had already drawn up plans for the park and given them to Leslie in his last episode.
    • Even more notably, Ann assembles several boxes full of items, clothes, and hobbies she picked up while dating various characters in the show. She has boxes for every romantic interest she’s had except for Mark.

    Andy Dwyer 

Andrew Maxwell Dwyer (Chris Pratt)

“I just wrote a new song, okay? Bottom line, it’s called ‘Sex Hair.’ It’s about how you can tell when someone just had sex ’cause of how their hair gets matted up in the back. It’s awesome.”

Andy was introduced as Ann’s idiotic musician boyfriend in the first season and originally intended as a temporary character. He was retained in the second season after Ann broke up with him and landed a job as a shoe-shiner at City Hall. He had a Will They or Won't They? relationship with April in the second season. In the third season, he and April married after having dated for less than a month, much to Leslie’s horror. Since then, their marriage has proved surprisingly stable. At the start of Season 4, Andy leaves his shoe-shiner job and joins the Parks Department.

  • Adorkable: Despite being a stereotypical jock, Andy shows elements of this from time to time, especially when he morphs into his alter ego “Burt Macklin, FBI” whenever a situation requires the presence of law enforcement. He also likes to reenact scenes from action movies and it is discovered in one episode that he made a bucket list of all of the things he would like to do once in his life before he dies.
  • Author Catchphrase: He mentions that he uses the lines ‘spread your wings and fly’ and ‘you deserve to be a champion’ in all of his songs. The first lyric at least can actually be heard in the studio versions of most of his songs.
  • Beta Couple: With April after they become a couple.
  • Breakout Character: Started out as the least important character on the show (being the boyfriend of someone not even in the Parks Department), but gradually becomes one of the leads.
  • Buffy Speak: Largely due to stupidity and not really knowing any technical terms.
  • Captain Obvious: Because he’s often Late to the Punchline, he’ll usually restate something everyone always figured out.
  • Character Development: Andy morphed from something of an asshat in Season 1 to a lovable doofus in Season 2.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Mostly in Season 4 and after, comes with being The Ditz. It’s not normal for someone to dedicate a whole episode’s investigation just to find who threw the pie at Jerry in “Bus Tour.” That’s just one of many examples.
  • The Ditz:
    Andy: Leslie, I typed your symptoms into the thing up here and it says that you might have … Network Connectivity Problems.
    • Genius Ditz: He’s the first applicant ever to get a 100 on the written part of the Police Academy exam, but completely fails the personality test.
  • Does Not Understand Sarcasm:
    April: I’ll go too.
    Tom: Really? ’Cause an hour ago you told me you’d rather watch a sex tape of your grandparents.
    April: Shut up! I don’t have anything else to do. Do you want help or not?
    Tom: All right, see you guys later. [Leaves]
    Andy: I think that it’s really, really sweet that your grandparents still make love.
    • In another episode, Andy and Tom are escorted to the archiving room by an extremely old woman. As soon as she leaves, Tom jokingly tells Andy to remind him to ask her where she was when Lincoln got shot. Andy makes sure to write it down.
    • This becomes rather ironic when he gets together with April, who is absolutely the most most sarcastic and snarky character on the show.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: His entire character becomes pretty much entirely different after Season 1, where he goes from a Jerkass who is conning Ann to a lovable idiot who is pretty much among the nicest characters on the show.
  • Fake Guest Star: In the first season, Chris Pratt was credited as a guest star despite appearing in every episode. They did shuffle back and forth on putting him in the opening titles during the first season, but nevertheless he was consistently referred to as a guest star. From the second season onwards, he was credited as a normal regular.
  • Feigning Intelligence: Andy has tried to sound smart on several occasions, and failed spectacularly every time.
  • Five Temperament Ensemble: Sanguine
  • Global Ignorance:
    • In the same episode, he says Venezuela is both “across the pond” and a city in Mexico.
    • He thinks that the states that form the Four Corners are Utah, Arizona, Colorado, and Oregon.note 
  • Happily Married: To April.
  • Jerkass: In Season 1. He grows out of it.
    • Nice Guy: While his stupidity can still lead to awkward situations at times, Andy overall becomes a very likeable and well-meaning person after his Character Development, and is generally friendly to everyone except Jerry and Kyle.
  • Literal-Minded: Leslie commissions him to write a song for Li’l Sebastian’s funeral that’s “five thousand times better than ‘Candle in the Wind’”. Andy writes a song titled “Five Thousand Candles in the Wind.”
  • Manic Pixie Dream Guy: Andy, to April.
  • Oblivious to Love: Towards the end of Season 2, it becomes clear that this is at least partially an act due to the age difference making Andy uncertain.
  • Odd Friendship: He spends a lot of time with Ben and Tom in later seasons.
  • Opposites Attract: With April.
  • Parental Substitute: Ron is a pretty straight example, while Leslie is a bit of this and a Cool Big Sis to him.
  • Shipper on Deck: In season five, Andy does more to get Ron and Diane together than either Ron or Diane.
  • Stalker with a Crush: In the first part of Season 2, Andy lives in a ravine near Ann’s house to ‘protect’ her.
  • The Stoner: Andy certainly seems like he’d be a stoner, but nothing is confirmed until “Correspondents’ Lunch,” where Leslie realizes the “fertility tea” she bought for Ann is probably actually weed and throws it away. The camera immediately pans over to Andy and April, who seem to be silently discussing stealing the baggie once no one’s watching.
  • Too Dumb to Fool: April’s attempts at Operation Jealousy both fail because he’s too dumb or naïve to be tricked.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: His evolution into a more likable person during the second season. There was some of this in the first season too, particularly in one episode where he goes out of the way to clean the house (and himself!) as a surprise for Ann while impaired by his cast.
  • Will They or Won't They?: With April during the second season.

    Ben Wyatt 

Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott)

“Well, you have to be able to make decisions like this, Leslie. You have to be harsh, you know. No one’s going to elect you to do anything if you don’t show that you’re a responsible grown-up.”

A state auditor who comes to Pawnee with Chris to evaluate the town’s funds at the end of the second season. Promoted to series regular in the third season. He is blunt and cynical, but has a Freudian Excuse.

  • Adorkable: Is deep into geek culture, enough that he creates his own tabletop game and Leslie once gave him his own Iron Throne. He’s so enthusiastic about his favorite properties that he cannot resist correcting his coworkers when they show their naïveté about a subject, even though they’re usually being facetious to needle him and don’t really care.
    Donna: What is wrong with you today? Did they cancel Game of Thrones?
    Ben: Nothing is wrong, just do your job! [Beat] They would never cancel Game of Thrones. It’s a crossover hit! It’s not just for fantasy enthusiasts! They’re telling human stories in a fantasy world! [Beat, calms down] Fill out the forms, please.
  • Aside Glance: Ben is the king of this.
  • Bait-and-Switch Tyrant: Served this role in his initial appearance, wherein his cynicism and designation by Chris as the Bearer of Bad News made Leslie consider him the ‘bad guy’. This very quickly changes though.
  • Bearer of Bad News: Chris often forces him into this position. In Season 6, it’s revealed that Ben actually loved getting to play this role whilst working with Chris.
  • Berserk Button: Any mention of him as a mayor when he was 18 years old is bound to set him off.
    • You also do not want to call Leslie a bitch in front of him.
  • Bishounen: Leslie starts thinking of Ben as this after they start dating:
    “I should listen to you always, because you are a man-genius with a taut, narrow frame like a sexy elf king!”
  • Bi the Way: When going off on a talk show host, he can be heard saying, “Everyone has gay thoughts!” Although he may not completely fulfill the trope, since said talk show host was heckling and flustering him into saying several embarrassing things.
  • Breakout Character
  • Brutal Honesty
  • The Comically Serious
  • The Cynic: Though he’s getting better, thanks to Leslie and Pawnee in general.
  • Deadpan Snarker: While subtler than other examples on this show, he definitely has his moments, though most of the time he is more ‘deadpan’ than ‘snarky’.
  • Face Palm: Ben’s typical reaction to Pawnee, its citizens, and his own personal disasters.
  • Five Temperament Ensemble: Melancholic
  • Happily Married: To Leslie as of mid-Season 5.
  • Hollywood Nerd: Definite Type II. Shauna Malwae-Tweep and Marlene Griggs-Knope certainly agree.
  • Improbable Age: Was mayor of a town at 18. A caller to the Crazy Ira and the Douche radio show lampshades this in the most offensively unintelligent way possible:
    Caller: Seems like eighteen is pretty young for a mayor. What were you, like, twelve?
  • In-Series Nickname: Ben accumulates a lot of these in his short time in the series (“Mean Ben,” “Turd Boy,” “Human Disaster,” “Calzone Boy,” “Nerd,” et cetera). In fandom, “Human Disaster” especially has grown to almost memetic proportions.
  • I Resemble That Remark: A Running Gag with Tom is Tom will make some kind of geek insult about Ben, with Ben to respond indignantly at being called a geek with an even geekier answer. For example, Tom insulting that Ben wants to take a Hobbit tour of New Zealand, and Ben responding that he did not care for Peter Jackson’s adaptation.
  • Nice Guy: Once you get past the Brutal Honesty and pessimism, Ben is easily one of the nicest and most reliable characters on the show, not to mention being the Only Sane Man most of the time.
    • He’s also one of the few, if not the only character, to have never made fun of Jerry. Even other Nice Guys Chris, Andy, and Leslie can’t say that.
  • No Social Skills
  • Odd Friendship: With Tom. They probably couldn’t be more dissimilar. Though this might apply to Ben and Chris as well.
    • He also ‘came out’ that Larry is his friend and the others shouldn’t be so mean to him.
  • Official Couple: With Leslie.
  • Old Shame: In-Universe: Bankrupting his hometown during his stint as teen mayor when he built an expensive winter sports center. When Crazy Ira and the Douche bring it up in “Media Blitz,” it absolutely ruins his composure.
  • One Steve Limit: Is an aversion. Ben was previously the name of April’s boyfriend’s boyfriend.
  • Only Sane Employee
  • Only Sane Man
  • Opposites Attract: Teased with Leslie.
    • In later episodes, they're actually shown to have incredibly similar qualities as well, and the Ship Tease has been dialed up to all-out UST.
  • Persona Non Grata: “Partridge” shows that his eponymous hometown still holds an intense grudge over Ice Town. His sister runs as soon as a crowd points her out as a relative, and Leslie and Ben even get chased out of a local park when a ranger recognizes him.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The Blue to Chris’ Red.
  • Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: Savvy guy to Leslie’s energetic girl.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: In a sleepy Midwestern town, he definitely stands out.
  • Straight Man: He is easily one of the most sensible characters on the show.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: He kind of replaces Mark. He doesn’t have the same job, but he acts as a foil/possible love interest to Leslie in a similar way.
    • By the end of the third season, however, Ben is definitely his own character. Also, according to creator Michael Schur, even though Ben was brought in with the idea that he might be a love interest/foil for Leslie, he was hesitant to label Ben that, reasoning that they hadn’t shot a single scene with the two of them yet, and implying that, like Andy/April, there needed to be chemistry for it to work.
    • He’s undeniably replaced Mark as the show’s ‘straight man’ though; the difference with Ben is that he has definable traits that allowed him to fit in with the rest of the cast and be able to spin laughs out of.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Calzones, which earns him no end of derision from everyone he knows. Although he may abandon his beloved calzones after he incurs a devastating case of food poisoning in “Ann’s Decision.”
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: He’s afraid of cops and in “Dave Returns” has to interact with a lot of them.
  • Will They or Won't They?: With Leslie. Oh my God.
  • The Woobie: Becomes this in-universe (and to some viewers) when Donna takes him on her and Tom’s annual “Treat Yo’self Day” after seeing him outside at lunch:
    Donna: Oh, Lord. Is he eating soup on a bench? Alone?
    • His Woobieness increases later that day when he buys himself a Batman costume to wear as his version of treating himself and begins to weep, his sadness over the breakup of his secret relationship with Leslie finally coming out.
    Donna: Uh oh. Batman’s crying.

    Chris Traeger 

Chris Traeger (Rob Lowe)

“I take care of my body above all else; diet, exercise, supplements, positive thinking. Scientists believe that the first human being who will live a hundred and fifty years has already been born. I believe I am that human being.”

Ben’s partner, opposite and Heterosexual Life Partner. He is cheerful and optimistic, but, in an effort to be liked, he always forces Ben to be the messenger for any bad news. Chris is also a health nut. In Season 3 the mayor of Pawnee asks him to fill in for the city manager who’s recovering from a heart attack.

  • The Ace: Donna even calls him the Bionic Man.
    • Broken Ace: He’s a hypochondriac, and is shown to be unable to cope with the idea of being unhappy and his ultra-positivity often makes him unintentionally a jerk to others (i.e. his behavior toward Ann and Jerry, as well as designating Ben the Bearer of Bad News).
  • Ambiguously Bi: Maybe a bit much, but it’s been repeatedly shown that he’s flattered by rather than uncomfortable with male attention.
  • Bearer of Bad News: But as shown below, he usually leaves that to Ben.
  • Breakout Character: He was originally only intended to appear in the last two episodes of Season 2 and the first six episodes of Season 3. However, after the positive critical reception of the character, Rob Lowe signed a multiyear contract and became a main cast member for several seasons.
  • Catch Phrase: One of his strategies for making Ben seem like the bad guy instead of him involves variations of this:
    [Character complains about X]
    Chris: Well, that’s terrible! Is there anything we can do about that, Ben?
    Ben: Uh, no.
    Chris: Damn! [Hastens off the scene]
    • Subverted Catch Phrase: Chris tries to use this once, but then he realizes Ben isn’t in the room.
    • “Ann Perkins!”
    • “This character page is LITERALLY the best TV Tropes page I have ever seen.”
    • "I would like an X. With a Y. And a Z!"
  • Cloudcuckoolander: To the point of using a far-too-opaque feng shui metaphor to break up with Ann.
  • Chosen Conception Partner: When Ann goes looking for a sperm donor to father he child, she eventually chooses Chris. But after they get back together, they wind up making a baby the old-fashioned way.
  • Expy: A Wide-Eyed Idealist working in government with an intensely positive personality and slavish devotion to rules, played by Rob Lowe? Chris is essentially a less-savvy sitcom version of Sam Seaborn.
  • Five Temperament Ensemble: Sanguine
  • Full-Name Basis: He greets everyone by pointing at them and saying their name.
  • Giving Someone the Pointer Finger: It’s part of his usual greeting, but it’s also what he does when he meets someone for the first time. It can be off-putting.
    Ron: Hello, gents! Ron Swanson. [Reaches for a handshake)']
    Chris: [
    Point] Ron … Swanson.
    Ron: Okay.
  • Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Revealed to be this in “Dave Returns.” He doesn’t know the words for “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” either.
  • Hypochondria: An extension of being born with a blood disease.
  • The Matchmaker: He expresses a fondness for this in “Jerry’s Painting” and endeavors to set Ben up with someone. Played for irony given his new rules are actually keeping Ben from the one person he’s interested in.
  • Moment Killer: An indirect version in that his rules against relationships within the government are the only obstacle in Leslie and Ben’s way, although he does not realize this. There are straighter examples in “Road Trip” where (1) Ben confesses to Leslie at dinner; Leslie leaves for a moment to consult Ann and steels herself to go back and kiss Ben only to find that Chris has appeared and has seated himself at their table, and (2) Ben and Leslie get increasingly cute while watching TV together on the couch in Chris’ hotel room and Chris keeps interrupting with his frequent bathroom trips.
  • Nice Guy: While his overly cheerful personality sometimes leads to unintentional Jerkass moments, Chris is overall a very well-meaning man who implements a health initiative out of a genuine desire to improve the health of the citizens of Pawnee. He is also friendly and polite to almost everyone. An excellent example of his niceness occurs during Ben’s bachelor party when he finds out none of the other guys got to have their own bachelor parties for various reasons. His response? He gives everyone the perfect bachelor party they never got to have.
  • Official Couple: With Ann as of Season 5.
  • Older Than They Look: He’s forty-four. The most common in-universe estimate is twenty-five.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted. In “The Set-Up,” before he was introduced, Ann set Leslie up with a colleague named Chris (see Leslie’s profile — he’s the guy who gave her the MRI).
  • The Pollyanna: So positive, he scares off Oren, the creepy and morbid Goth at April and Andy’s wedding.
    • When he was born with a deadly, rare blood disease, the doctors told his parents he would only live for a few months. That’s why he is so positive!
  • Principles Zealot: He will not budge or bend the rules, even if he would personally like to. He hates the fact that he has to investigate Ben and Leslie’s relationship and genuinely wants them to get off scot-free, but he refuses to half-ass the investigation and does it to the best of his ability.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles
  • Pure Is Not Good: His exceedingly healthy body, which he compares to a finely-tuned microchip, is more than once played as a weakness. When he catches the flu it hits him like a truck.
    Chris: Stop … pooping.
  • Put on a Bus
  • Real Men Wear Pink: His pink shower cap (from a breast cancer awareness triathlon), and he even has a leg razor. Chris sees none of this anything to be ashamed of.
    • He also doesn’t see kissing Ron on his birthday as anything strange.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The Red to Ben’s Blue.
  • Sarcasm-Blind:
    Chris: It is exactly because of that lewd photo that I am here. […] If I could go back in time and cut your eyeballs out, I would.
    April: Wow, that is so sweet.
    Chris: Thank you.
    • Although in a later episode he seems to understand that Ann is using sarcasm, but not that it’s meant as a jab at him.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: The sensitive guy to Ron’s manly man.
  • Stepford Smiler:
    • In “The Trial of Leslie Knope,” he's so anxious and depressed about Leslie's trial that he loads up on herbal remedies in a way that is creepily reminiscent of a drug addict to the point of, as Leslie puts it, “radiating pure.”
    • Other episodes show that he actually has crippling issues about his mortality that he barely manages to cover up. It’s really the only reason he's such a health nut. He begins spiralling into depression when his unrequited feelings for Ann make him wonder if he’ll just end up alone.
  • Straw Vegetarian: While he does eat meat, his health nut tendencies are usually focused on getting away from red meat and he’s treated the same as a Straw Vegetarian. On multiple occasions he’s shown thinking various plants are reasonable alternatives to meat. Most telling is when he wanted to remove hamburgers from the commissary. He bet Ron he could make a turkey burger better than a hamburger. When they had the cook-off, Chris slaved over his burgers with the finest ingredients. Ron slapped ground beef on a grill. Ron won in a landslide because beef is just better. Even Chris was 100 percent convinced.
  • Terrified of Germs: During flu season:
    Chris: [Increasingly frantically] I have to get out of here. I have 2.8 percent body fat. My body’s like a microchip. A grain of sand could destroy it. My body’s a microchip. [Leaves]
  • Too Much Information: Chris has a habit of being very direct and honest with people. This sometimes results in him saying things that would probably be better left unsaid, like telling female colleagues when they’ve done something he finds arousing.
    • While dating Milly, Chris insisted on including Jerry in his courtship out of respect for him as her father. This includes telling Jerry whenever Milly slept over at Chris’ house.
  • There Are No Therapists: Averted! He starts seeing a therapist in Season 5 and it does him a world of good.

    Garry “Jerry”/“Larry” Gergich 

Garry “Jerry”/“Larry”/“Terry” Gergich (Jim O’Heir)

“Well, you know it’s like I always say, ‘It ain’t government work if you don’t have to do it twice.’”

An older Butt Monkey who has worked in the Parks Department since the 1970s. He’s picked on by everyone, particularly ‘mean’ characters like Tom and April, but also by ‘nice’ characters like Leslie. He is regarded as a boring, out-of-touch loser, but actually seems to have his personal life squared away better than anyone else.

  • Accidental Misnaming: In “The Trial of Leslie Knope,” it’s revealed that his name is actually Garry:
    Jerry: On my first day here, the old director, he called me “Jerry” and I just didn't think I should correct him.
    • Actually if you look you at his ID card in the previous episode his name Garry is clearly visible if you look closely.
    • Malicious Misnaming: At the start of the sixth season, April effectively changes his name to “Larry Gengurch.” He’s been known exclusively as “Larry” ever since. Even NBC’s website for the show now recognizes him as Larry Gengurch!
      • Taken Up to Eleven by the Time Skip at the end of “Moving Up,” during which time people began calling him “Terry.” In Season 7, he keeps using that name.
  • Beneath the Mask: Later episodes have shown that it’s actually difficult to maintain his upbeat attitude at the office in light of all the abuse he takes, which may lead to some of his clumsiness.
  • Biggus Dickus
    Dr. Harris: That man has the largest penis I have ever seen. I actually don’t even know if he has mumps, forgot to look. I was distracted … by the largest penis I have ever seen.
  • Butt Monkey: He gets yelled at and demeaned by everyone in the office, to the point where he’s basically this show’s version of Toby.
  • Catch Phrase: “Oh jeez…” whenever someone yells at him for doing something wrong. Which happens pretty much all the time.
  • The Chew Toy
  • Five Temperament Ensemble: Phlegmatic
  • Happily Married: To his wife Gayle.
  • I Have Many Names: He’s actually named Garry Gergich, but on his first day in the department the Parks director mistakenly called him “Jerry” and he didn’t have the nerve to correct him, so it stuck until his retirement. When he returned to the Department a few months later, April declared his real name was Larry Gengurch after he requested they started using his real name instead of Jerry. At some point during the Time Skip in the season finale, the office began calling him Terry instead. Lamapshaded when the guys burnt their initials into a “Buddy Box” for Chris as a going-away present.
    Chris: [Confused] Who’s GJLGG?
    Larry: Garry Jerry Larry Gergich Gengurch.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: Before Gayle’s first pregnancy, he supposedly had a similar figure to Chris.
  • Impossibly Tacky Clothes: Something for which Tom likes to make fun of him.
  • Leap Day: His birthday, naturally.
  • Nice Guy: Despite being constantly dumped on by his coworkers and by the universe in general, Jerry doesn’t have a mean-spirited bone in his body.
  • Oblivious Adoption: Had no idea he was adopted until Mark looked up his background and mentioned that his adoptive mother had been arrested for marijuana possession … Jerry just said he didn’t know he was adopted.
  • Older Than They Look/Younger Than They Look: Oddly combined in that Jerry is supposed to be sixty-four as of the fourth season (the episode “Sweet Sixteen” discusses his Leap Day birthday), and of course has a lot of Informed Flaw in terms of his appearance, but when that episode aired, Jim O’Heir was only fifty—in fact, he’s eight years younger than Christie Brinkley, who was cast as Jerry’s wife.
  • Phrase Catcher: “Dammit, Jerry!”
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Along with Donna, after Chris and Ann left.
  • The Scapegoat: Everything is Jerry’s fault.
  • Self-Deprecation:
    • In “Jerry’s Painting” he tells Leslie that allowing the painting to be destroyed is something he would do, and that he didn’t expect her to give in.
    • A comedic example in “The Bubble”: Chris says he believes Jerry is capable of so much more. Jerry’s immediate reply is a flat “I’m not.”
  • 10-Minute Retirement: Retires at the end of the fifth season, but is brought back part-time of the end of the same episode. He returns to the Parks Department full-time in the sixth season.
  • The Ugly Guy's Hot Daughter: His three girls.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: His wife Gayle is played by Christie Brinkley.

    Donna Meagle 

Donna Meagle (Retta Sirleaf)

“We’re not big on hospitality. The Meagles are a cold people.”

A Sassy Black Woman who is office manager for the Parks Department. Donna has expensive tastes as she apparently comes from a wealthy family (Ginuwine is her cousin, as revealed in “Sweet Sixteen”). Her most prized possession is her Mercedes-Benz M-Class SUV, which you better not mess with if you know what’s good for you. She Really Gets Around and has had a variety of weird sexual exploits, which we mostly hear about in Noodle Incident format.

Supporting Characters

    Related/Married to Main Characters 

Marlene Griggs-Knope (Pamela Reed)

Leslie’s mother and “a big mucky-muck in the county school system”. Has shades of Meddling Parent and ‘Well Done, Daughter’ Girl. Leslie’s father has been dead since she was ten years old, which was first implied in a throwaway line explaining that ‘he lives in Florida, in a cemetery’ and later made explicit in the fifth season.

  • Iron Lady: She’s a big deal in Pawnee politics, and wheels and deals with the best of them. Her daughter even compares her to Margaret Thatcher.
  • Nepotism: Early on it seemed like a large part of Leslie’s success was because of her mother.
  • Out of Focus: After Season 3, she gets a cameo at best.

Tamara “Tammy” Swanson (Paula Pell)

Ron’s mother. Even more reclusive than her son, and a gun nut.

Tammy Swanson “One” (Patricia Clarkson)

Ron’s first wife. Makes her first appearance as the back of a head in the Season 3 finale, which is enough for Tammy Two and Ron to drop everything and head for the hills. She works for the IRS. Her influence can turn Ron into a dorky, pro-government Henpecked Husband.

Tammy Swanson “Two” (Megan Mullally)

The second of Ron’s evil ex-wives. Not only is she also named Tammy, so is Ron’s mother. This Tammy is a Vampy Manipulative Bitch and the deputy director of the Library Department, the Sitcom Arch-Nemesis of the Parks Department. Her influence can turn Ron into a pliable sex freak.

  • Evil Counterpart: To Leslie.
  • Jerkass
  • Official Couple: Ron sets her up with Jamm to get her off his back. In “Ron and Jammy,” they break up after Leslie sees what Tammy has done to Jamm, namely tried to turn him into Ron.
  • Sitcom Archnemesis: To Ron, Leslie and Diane.
  • The Vamp: Uses her feminine wiles to get what she wants.

Diane Elizabeth Lewis (Lucy Lawless)

Ron's girlfriend in season five. She is a middle-school vice principal with two young daughter, Ivy (Rylan Lee) and Zoey (Sadie Salazar). According to Leslie and Ron himself, she is perfect for Ron. They are married at the start of Season 6.

  • Badass: Actually requests an officer arresting her uncuff Tammy Two so it’d be a fair fight.
  • Birds of a Feather: With Ron.
  • Happily Married: To Ron as of Season 6.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Lucy Lawless does a decent American accent, but sometimes those Kiwi vowels sneak in.
  • Troll: When she married Ron, she stated her middle name was Tammy just to screw with him, before revealing it’s actually Elizabeth.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Twice towards Ron.
    • When Ron misguidedly breaks one of her daughters’ tiaras in two so they can share.
    • When Ron tries to get off the grid, she gives him a gentle one of these, pointing out that while she’s okay with his privacy, he needs to be available to his family.

Wendy Haverford (Jama Williamson)

Tom's wife at the start of the series. She is Canadian and married him to stay in the country, resulting in the Irony of an interracial Citizenship Marriage where it’s the white partner who is trying to avoid being deported from America. They split up during the second season, in an episode appropriately titled “Tom’s Divorce”. Ron dated her for a while before she moved back to Canada near the start of the third season.

  • Oblivious to Love: Was entirely unaware Tom had feelings for her at first.
  • Put on a Bus: To Canada, specifically her hometown of Ottawa.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Not that Tom is genuinely ugly, but this is the reaction of most people when they see them together.

    Government Employees 

Ethel Beavers (Helen Slayton-Hughes)

A Cool Old Lady who works in the dreaded fourth floor of City Hall and is also court stenographer.

Jeremy Jamm (Jon Glaser)

City councilman, orthodontist and Jerkass extraordinaire who generally opposes everything Leslie does on principle. As of Season 6, while retaining his Jerkassness, is also characterized as a lonely and pathetic man who desperately needs a friend.

  • Catch Phrase: “You just got Jammed!”
  • Cool Car: He’s very proud of his car.
    Jamm: I once got an Asian girl to sit in it!
  • Hate Sink: He exists largely so Leslie can have an annoying enemy on the council.
  • Jerkass: Especially to Leslie, even though he considers her a friend.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Tries to obstruct pretty much anything Leslie does on principle.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: One of Leslie’s many, and her most prominent in Seasons 5 and 6.

Bill Dexhart (Kevin Symons)

City councilman. An incredibly Sleazy Politician who is usually involved in some kind of sex scandal.

  • Corrupt Politician: A sexual deviant who will do anything to win and stays in office due to a combination of living in the worst district in town and playing incredibly dirty.
  • Jerkass: He stays in office despite his many sex scandals only because he runs scorched-earth negative campaigns to make his opponents look even worse than he.
  • Kavorka Man: His sexual exploits are genuinely impressive, if only because he’s not notably attractive but manages to bed a ridiculous number of women.
  • Running Gag: Whenever Dexhart is mentioned, he’s usually at the center of another sex scandal.

Fielding Milton (James Greene)

City councilman since 1948. Mostly a source of Racist Grandpa jokes.

  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Not necessarily an out-and-out villain, but he’s a noted racist and sexist who regularly tries to down-talk Leslie.
  • Racist Grandpa: As noted above. He originally ran for office on a promise to de-integrate baseball.

Douglass Howser (Yvans Jourdain)

City councilman. Seems to be a Straight Man. A Running Gag involves Leslie running into him in awkward situations and her using the opportunity to try and talk about some issue.

  • Bald Black Leader Guy: He seems to be the City Council's president/chairman/whatever (he sits in the middle and his chair is on a raised platform). He is also bald and black.
  • Only Sane Man: On the city council. You’ve got overzealous Leslie, sleazy Jamm, sex-scandal-prone Dexhart, Racist Grandpa Milton, and then Howser, whose oddest quirk is that he runs into Leslie at the weirdest times.
  • Shout-Out: One wonders if he’s a doctor.

Ingrid de Forest (Kristen Bell)

A resident of the former Eagleton and Leslie's replacement on the city council.

  • Anti-Villain: Runs against Leslie purely in her hometown’s interest.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Quite mean at first, but later shows herself to be a great politician who honestly cares about the former Eagletonians.
  • Worthy Opponent: Considers Leslie as this after running against her.

Dave Sanderson (Louis C.K.)

Leslie’s boyfriend in Season 2. A bumbling cop. Their relationship is cut short due to Dave joining the Army Reserve and moving to San Diego, but he comes back in Season 4’s “Dave Returns” and awkwardly interacts with Ben.

Craig Middlebrooks (Billy Eichner)

The Camp Straight former office manager of Eagleton’s Parks Department who transferred to the Pawnee department when the two towns merged. Has No Indoor Voice and prone to Comical Overreacting.

  • Comical Overreacting: He will do this over anything.
  • It's All About Me: Reacted to the news of Leslie’s pregnancy by ranting about how every time he accomplishes something, someone else always upstages him.
  • No Indoor Voice: Craig has a seeming inability to use an indoor voice.
  • Sixth Ranger
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: So far he’s nowhere to be found Post-Time Skip and wasn’t even mentioned in the first two episodes.
    • We learn in “Leslie and Ron” that he became head of Parks and Rec after Ron left.

    Pawnee Media 

Joan Callamezzo (Mo Collins)

The vapid host of Pawnee Today, a talk show frequented by the main characters. She likes Tom due to his flattery, but seemingly has a vendetta against Leslie. She’s oddly arrogant for a local media star.

  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Entirely lost her mind over the Time Skip. Highlights include calling all her ex-boyfriends while sitting on a washing machine on-air, having her audience fight over a car, and believing she’s in Gotham in the middle of a speech.
  • Jerkass
  • Lady Drunk
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Leslie’s. She seems to relish taking her down.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: A local talk show host who seems to think she’s Oprah.

Shauna Malwae-Tweep (Alison Becker)

Intrepid Reporter for the local paper. Usually, the Parks Department gives her access in the hope that she’ll report something positively for them, but hijinks ensue and her story ends up with a negative, sensationalistic slant. In Season 5, Chris has a short-lived and ambiguously romantic relationship with her.

  • Anti-Villain: Yes, she causes problems for the department, but she’s simply doing her job.
  • Romantic False Lead: Her usual role is becoming friendly with a male character, making the girl he eventually winds up with jealous by accident. This happened with Andy, Ben, and Chris in that order.
  • Romantic Runner-Up: As a perpetual Romantic False Lead, she winds up as this frequently. As she points out, “I can’t even land the shoeshine boy!”

Perderick “Perd” Hapley (Jay Jackson)

Host of Ya’ Heard? with Perd. Tends to speak redundantly, in redundant sentences, that repeat themselves.

  • Acrofatic: Can do the Worm.
  • Captain Obvious: Because of his redundant nature, most of his statements are quite obvious in addition to being redundant in nature.
    “Issue number one is the first issue we’re going to talk about.”
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Even if he isn’t sure if there are real cuckoos living in the clouds, his offbeat behavior would fit right in if there were.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: His most notable trait, which is quite notable.
  • Kent Brockman News: Of the spacey, cuckoolander kind.
  • Literal-Minded: Is so tunnel-visioned with his questions and answers, jokes and sarcasm tend to escape his tunnel vision.
    Perd: The lewd photo, how big of a deal is it?
    Leslie: Well, Perd, it’s not that big a deal, if you know what I mean.
    Perd: I don’t know what you mean, but it had the cadence of a joke!
  • Nice Guy: The nicest person in the Pawnee media. Any time he’s caused trouble for Leslie it hasn’t been on purpose.
  • Verbal Tic: Speaks in sentences that are somewhat redundant and repeat themselves, because of the redundancy of rephrasing everything he says in the sentences that he speaks.

Derry Murbles (Dan Castellaneta)

Host of a public radio show which plays terrible music. Leslie has been a guest on the show a couple of times.

Crazy Ira and the Douche {(Matt Besser and Nick Kroll))

Crazy Ira and Howard “The Douche” Tuttleman are two shock jocks of a morning zoo-style Pawnee radio program. They serve primarily as a parody of those types of radio shows, especially in a small-town market like Pawnee. The show prominently features fart jokes and ‘Your Mom’ insults, as well as constant sound effects from their sound man “China Joe,” who hates his job. Crazy Ira and The Douche are widely admired in Pawnee.

  • Alter Ego Acting: The Douche occasionally points out when he’s speaking in character. “That’s the Douche talking.”
  • Hidden Depths: Will occasionally provide moments that show they are more mature than their on-air behavior suggests, only to follow it up by acting like they would on air.
  • Jerkass: The two are NOT the least bit likeable.
  • No Sell: In the companion book Pawnee: Best Town in America, Jerry transcribed the two trying to prank Ron. Ron stonewalls them since their choice of disguises to bug him with are random citizens and other members of the government, both of which Ron avoids like the plague.
  • Only Known By His Nickname: Crazy Ira.
  • Shock Jock
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: They are two among many citizens in Pawnee who ruin things for Leslie on a regular basis.
  • Those Two Guys

    The Sapersteins 

Jean-Ralphio Saperstein (Ben Schwartz)

Tom’s partner-in-crime who is (even more) slimy and obnoxious. He’s hilarious just from his hairstyle. Pretty much outright hated by Ron and Donna.

  • Anything That Moves: Or, in his words, “I guess you could say I’m pretty open-minded.”
  • Casanova Wannabe: Even more so than Tom.
  • Conspicuous Consumption: The only thing better than having money is making sure people know you have it.
  • Graceful Loser: Whenever he loses a job or gets rejected in an interview, Jean-Ralphio simply acknowledges that it’s the right decision.
    “Makes sense. So I just go out the same way I came in?”
  • Large Ham: Constantly loud, if not outright yelling (or rapping).
  • Replacement Flat Character: He embodies all of the negative traits Tom had before he got character development.
  • Rich Idiot with No Day Job: Has plenty of disposable income due to his father.
  • Spoiled Brat: Calls his father “Daddy” and asks for money. Which he gets.
  • Verbal Tic: Will occasionally randomly sing words in his sentences.

Mona Lisa Saperstein (Jenny Slate)

Jean-Ralphio’s “twin sister from the same mister” who he describes as (singing) “the worst person in the wooooorld” and also a “total klepto, nympho, and pyro.” Tom hires her at his clothing rental business and ends up starting a relationship with her after attempting to discipline her results in a sexual encounter.

Dr. Saperstein (Henry Winkler)

Jean-Ralphio and Mona Lisa’s father. He finds his layabout offspring to be a huge disappointment.

  • My Girl Is Not a Slut: Is convinced Mona Lisa was a virgin before dating Tom; when he accuses Tom of stealing her virginity, everyone else in the room bursts into laughter at the idea.
  • Nice Guy: Zig-zagged. He’s got fantastic rapport with his patients and complains about being interrupted while watching Saturday morning cartoons with his son; but he loathes Tom over his perceived mistreatment of Jean-Ralphio and Mona Lisa to the point that he doesn’t even care when he finds out that his kids were lying, and he makes it very clear that he considers his children to be complete and utter disappointments that he wants to offload at the earliest opportunity.
  • Papa Wolf: Sets about destroying Tom’s business because he wronged Jean-Ralphio and Mona Lisa.
    • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: After finding out that his kids lied about Tom’s actions, he decides to continue with the business because it’s making money.
  • Serial Numbers Filed Off: In-universe, he opens a ‘clothing rental for teens’ business just to run Tom’s “Rent-a-Swag” out of business. It’s so transparent that he even calls it “Tommy’s Closet”.
  • Sitcom Archnemesis: To Tom in Season 6.

    The Newports 

Nick Newport, Sr. (Christopher Murray)

Former CEO of Sweetums, a candy corporation which owns half the town. Dies at the end of Season 4.

Jessica Wicks (Susan Yeagley)

Nick, Sr.’s Gold Digger wife. Also a Rich Bitch. Current CEO.

Bobby Newport (Paul Rudd)

Leslie’s opponent in the City Council race. A Man Child and Upper-Class Twit.

Nick Newport, Jr. (Gary Weeks)

Current CEO of Sweetums in season two (until Jessica Wicks replace him). Father of Denver (Ryan Hartwig) and Dakota (Harley Graham). As of season four, he seems to have been Retconned out of existence.

    Other Pawnee Residents 

Marcia and Marshall Langman (Darlene Hunt and Todd Sherry)

“There are girls quivering. There are boys staring deeply into girls’ eyes as they quiver and so forth. There really is a tremendous amount of quivering. It is anti-Christian. It is pro-quivering.”
—Marcia, on Twilight. Which was written by a Mormon.

She is the first of the two to be introduced, and is a humorless right-wing Christian activist offended by everything. Often uses Insane Troll Logic. The episode “Sex Education” introduces her husband Marshall Langman, who shares her views in spite of being obviously Camp Gay. (They’re probably based on Michele and Marcus Bachmann.)

Ken Hotate (Jonathan Joss)

The Chief of the local Wamapoke tribe. He enjoys inducing White Guilt at every possible opportunity. Leslie was at one point his favorite target, but eventually they jointly figure out ways to weaponize that against some of the nastier people in Pawnee.

Dr. Harris (Cooper Thornton)

A doctor and a coworker of Ann's at the local hospital. An incredibly Deadpan Snarker with a terrible bedside manner.

Li’l Sebastian

A miniature horse (more specifically, a Shetland pony) that did … something that has endeared him to the residents of Pawnee.

  • Back from the Dead: He appears to Leslie and Ben as a sign they should get married. It’s actually a licensed impersonator (imhorseinator?), and his handler tries to tell that to Leslie, but she doesn’t care.
  • Character Death: Dies at the end of the third season, and is given a city-funded hero’s funeral. Ron takes his death particularly hard:
    Ron: When I walked in this morning and saw the flag was at half-mast, I thought ‘all right — another bureaucrat ate it.’ But then, I found out it was Li’l Sebastian. Half-mast is too high. Show some damned respect.
  • Gag Penis: Even when pixilated out, it’s played for laughs.
  • Serious Business: Everyone in Pawnee adores him. Outsiders don’t really get it, which is a Berserk Button for Pawneeans.

Wyatt “Burly” Burlinson (Andrew Burlinson)

Guitarist & backing vocalist (Later co-lead) for Mouse Rat.

Brandi Maxxxx (Mara Marini)

Local Pawnee Porn star who also ran for City Council against Leslie Knope and Bobby Newport. Admires Leslie and played her in Too Big to Nail, an adult movie about Leslie saving the Pawnee Videodome. (In fairness, they do look somewhat similar.)

  • Abhorrent Admirer: For Leslie. She also, at one point during a debate, said she'd sleep with every one of her opponents.
  • Bi the Way: She has no problem casually talking about how she's slept with many men and women. She's either this or gay-for-pay.
  • Not So Different: How she sees her and Leslie, though the latter very much disagreed.
  • Running Gag: Repeatedly compares Leslie’s work in the Parks Department to her work as a porn star, much to Leslie’s disagreement and horror.
  • Too Much Information: Her comments about her career are usually irrelevant to the discussion, and unwanted by Leslie.

Orin (Eric Isenhower)

Orin is April's very quiet, very creepy friend. He seldom speaks and often stares at people and makes them feel uncomfortable. Everybody except April dislikes him, with Leslie even outwardly insulting him. He once had a performance art show, where he is an animal living on a human farm.